If we asked if you were friends with your bank, what would you say?
If your answer is vigorously shaking your head “no,” then you might want to keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on speed dial.
This government organization started collecting consumer complaints in 2011. Apparently, a lot of people have something not-so-nice to say about financial institutions: More than half a million complaints are housed in its Consumer Complaint Database.
Data like this offers a snapshot of which banks are making their customers happy — and which are not.
The Worst-Rated Banks
What makes a good or bad bank for any customer depends on your needs. A comparison of features alone would be insufficient for calling out the worst banks in America. For that, we need to hear from customers themselves.
Consumer rights service company Fairshake analyzed reviews at Consumer Affairs and spotted the banks with the lowest ratings in the country, mapping the most-hated banks in each state, based on the number of one-star reviews on the consumer review site.
When all was said and done, these 10 were at the bottom of the heap in customers’ hearts nationwide:
- Bank of America
- Credit One Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Chase Bank
- US Bank
- PNC Bank
- TD Bank
- Fifth Third Bank
Runners up: Some regional banks topped the list of one-star reviews in their most popular states, including Associated Bank (Wisconsin), SunTrust (Georgia), BB&T (West Virginia), TCF National Bank (Minnesota), TD Bank (New England), Citizens Bank (Rhode Island), and Regions Bank (southeast U.S.).
Note that the banks with the most poor ratings are also some of the largest banks in the country.
It makes sense that companies with the most customers would be likely to have more reviews — and, therefore, a higher number of one-star reviews — so the ranking is probably a little skewed by size.
But that’s not the only reason these banks end up on the list. Other types of studies that account for a company’s size have shown that customers have a better experience with community-based banks and credit unions — which doesn’t surprise us!
What Makes These the Worst Banks?
Generally, we follow the rule folks have used for millennia to choose which services to buy: Listen to word of mouth.
When you’re shopping for a bank, review the features to make sure it has what you need, but make sure to look into customer reviews, ratings and complaints, too. How a bank handles difficult and unusual issues could make all the difference in your experience long term.
According to an analysis of reviews on its sit, banking review site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints customers have about bad banks, including:
- Poor customer service.
- Hidden fees
- Bounced check fees
- Issues with mortgages and loans
- Major errors or mistakes
- Products and services that don’t live up to what was advertised
Best Banks for Features and Promotions
Trying to stay away from the banks with the most complaints? We’ve rounded up our favorite banks and credit unions based on features we know consumers look for most, including convenience and perks.
These top our list of the best online banks:
- Axos Bank
- Capital One 360
- Ally Bank
- Alliant Credit Union
- CIT Bank
- Discover Bank
- Charles Schwab
These accounts offer the best bank promotions for new customers:
- Aspiration: $150 bonus when you open a new account with a $10 deposit.
- Aspiration Plus: $200 bonus when you open a new account with a $10 deposit.
- Chase Total Checking Account: $225 when you receive a qualifying direct deposit within 90 days.
- TD Bank Convenience Checking Account: $150 when you receive direct deposits of at least $500 within 60 days.
- TD Bank Beyond Checking Account: $300 when you receive direct deposits of at least $2,500 within 60 days.
- Chime: $100 bonus for you and $100 for a friend when you refer a friend who receives a direct deposit of at least $200.
- Bank of America Advantage Account: $100 when you receive direct deposits of at least $1,000 within 90 days.
- BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account: $200 when you receive direct deposits of at least $4,000 within 90 days.
- BMO Harris Smart Money Account: $200 when you receive direct deposits of at least $4,000 within 90 days.
- BMO Harris Premier Account: $350 when you receive direct deposits of at least $7,500 within 90 days.
- Discover Bank Online Savings Account: Open account using code BCS122 and deposit at least $15,000 (for $150 bonus) or $25,000 (for $200 bonus) within 30 days.
- Huntington Asterisk-Free Checking: $150 when you deposit at least $1,000 within 60 days.
- Huntington 5 Checking Account: $200 when you deposit at least $1,000 within 60 days.
- HSBC Premier Checking Account: $450 when you receive qualifying direct deposits of at least $5,000 a month for three consecutive months.
- PNC Virtual Wallet: $50 to $400 based on qualifying direct deposits within 60 days.
- PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro: $200 when you receive $2,000 in direct deposits within 60 days.
How to Choose a Bank to Fit Your Needs
Follow these tips when choosing a bank to find the one that’s best for you.
- Understand the types of banks. Know the difference between banks, credit unions and online banking platforms.
- Consider what you need. Look at your finances, and make a shortlist of features you’re looking for, so you know what to ask about.
- Make sure the money is secure. Only put your money in an account that’s insured by the FDIC (banks) or NCUA (credit unions).
- Crowdsource reviews. Read online reviews and ratings, and ask family and friends for their personal experiences with institutions you’re considering.
- Check the ATM network. If you expect to need cash often, check out an account’s ATM fees (or reimbursement policy!), and look at the size and location of the bank’s network to make sure you can find ATMs nearby when you need them.
- Compare interest rates and fees. Avoid losing your money to nickel and diming. Find an account with low fees and high APY interest.
- Look for usability. How’s the app and online banking? Does the account help with savings and money management?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Worst Banks in America
Here are our answers to some of the most common questions about bad banks.
Which Bank Has the Most Complaints?
According to a 2016 analysis by LendEDU, TCF National Bank had the most complaints per $1 billion in deposits (i.e. the highest rate of complaints). In 2021, the banking reviews site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints in its reviews: excessive fees, bad customer service, bounced checks, overdraft fees, loan issues, major errors and failing to live up to their advertised offers.
What is the No. 1 Bank in America?
The largest bank in the United States by assets is JPMorgan Chase & Co., the company formed in 2000 with the merger of investment banking institution J.P. Morgan and retail banking arm Chase Bank. As of 2021, JPMorgan Chase holds nearly $4 trillion in assets.
What’s the Worst Bank in the United States?
Bank of America has among the worst reputations with consumers in the country, ranking for some of the most complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as the lowest ratings with Consumer Affairs. It ranks alongside some of the largest banks in the country, including Wells Fargo, US Bank and JPMorgan Chase.
Dana Sitar is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She is a former staffer at The Penny Hoarder. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC, The Motley Fool, Inc. and more.